Contentsquare acquires Upstride to speed up AI innovation for digital business

With the acquisition, the digital-experience platform maker gains 14 Upstride deep-learning experts to help it drive development in ML and artificial intelligence.

Contentsquare, which has developed a digital experience analytics platform that enables businesses to track online customer behavior, has acquired Upstride, a French startup specializing in improving machine learning performance. Terms of the deal were not released.

With the acquisition, Contentsquare gains Upstride's deep learning experts to help it further drive innovation in ML and artificial intelligence.

Fourteen Upstride engineers will join Contentsquare, bringing their experience of working for leading tech companies such as Facebook, Samsung, GoPro, and Nvidia. Meanwhile, Upstride CEO Gary Roth will fill a strategic role on Contentsquare's operations team.

Upstride brings AI talent to Contentsquare

Prior to the acquisition, Upstride was developing technology that enhances the learning capabilities of optimization algorithms, particularly neural networks. The startup created a new data type called Hycor, which exploits geometric features present in data and enhances information representation. Hycor can be integrated within existing pipelines and is used by AI builders, such as Nvidia's CUDA Deep Neural Network library (cuDNN) and Intel's OneAPI.

In 2020, Upstride introduced an open-source image-classification application programming interface. The API allows deep learning experts to save time by simplifying the most common task in computer vision: image classification. It improves accuracy, data efficiency, and power consumption of neural networks.

Contentsquare helps companies improve experiences across the web, mobile, and applications by analyzing people's digital interactions. Leading brands -- including industries such as retail, telecom, and travel -- use the company's platform to collect key insights to create better user experiences. 

In the past year, Contentsquare revealed plans to further invest in AI both through product development and acquisitions. In October 2020, Contentsquare made two acquisitions. It bought web performance-monitoring company Dareboost and an accessibility software company, Adapt My Web. It also launched several new products and expanded its portfolio with 11 patents.

This acquisition adds to the AI capabilities Contentsquare has stockpiled and enables it to accelerate innovation with a deeper talent pool of AI and machine learning experts. AI talent is scarce and adding a group of talented people through an acquisition helps Contentsquare fast track innovation. 

Contentsquare closed a massive round of funding 

This news follows a couple of other big announcements for the company. In May, Contentsquare raised $500 million Series E funding. The investment led by SoftBank gave Contentsquare additional financing to further develop its platform and expand the company, adding 1,500 new hires around the world. The latest round comes a year after Contentsquare's $190 million Series D funding, bringing the total to $810 million and valuing Contentsquare at $2.8 billion.

By combining forces, Contentsquare and Upstride will "start pushing new AI boundaries together [with] some of the most creative and innovative minds in the tech industry," according to Contentsquare CEO Jonathan Cherki. Contentsquare plans to do so by filling 1,500 new positions during the next three years in product development, focusing specifically on intent-based optimization, cookieless and predictive capabilities, merchandising insights, and content performance.

Businesses need to prepare for an increasingly cookieless world 

In June the company announced a tool that enables businesses to access customer insights without having to use cookies. This lets organizations turn off first- and third-party cookies but still be able to create personalized experiences by analyzing the behaviors and actions of the users. 

This feature will become increasingly important as the industry moves to a cookieless world and is central to Contentsquare's intent-based approach to personalization. Owning and controlling customer relationships is a significant factor in achieving market leadership. Historically, this was done using cookies placed on desktop or mobile browsers, but these are quickly going away. Safari and Firefox already have removed them, and Google Chrome will do so by 2023. Also, Apple's IDFA is like a cookie and will require the user's consent later in 2021. 

This impending "cookie apocalypse" removes the ability to track shoppers anonymously. This makes it harder for retailers to acquire and retain customers because it will be more difficult to push ads. The new tool can help Contentsquare customers move to this cookieless world without a significant loss of intelligence or insights.